A California mayor who identifies as a woman of color was met with outrage and forced to apologize after she was accused of dismissing the Black Lives Matter movement during a city council meeting earlier this week.
Sashi McEntee, the mayor who is Sri Lankan by heritage, was asked about what Mill Valley is doing to promote and help the movement, ABC 7 News reported. The person said that he posted a “White Silence is Violence” sign that he posted was apparently quickly removed.
McEntee was criticized for not showing enough interest in the person’s comment and said it is not policy to “take action on issues that are not of immediate local importance,” the report said.
Patch reported that a video of the remarks was uploaded to YouTube on Tuesday and went viral. Mill Valley, a city in Marin County, even trended on Twitter shortly after the comments.
Siobhan Brewer, a resident in the area who is half black, told The Marin Independent Journal that the “dismissive remark” was hurtful. The paper reported that an online petition garnered 10,000 signatures calling on her to either apologize or step aside.
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Celimene Pastor, a black resident, told the paper that she was appalled by the mayor’s comment.
“As parents of four biracial black children, we are concerned for their well being and her comments did not put our worries at ease. Mill Valley can do better and we need stronger leadership,” she said.
McEntee released a statement on Tuesday where she called the death of George Floyd while in police custody “tragic” and certainly a matter of local importance.
“As a person of color, I am acutely aware of the power and importance of words because I have been on the receiving end of bigotry myself,” she said. “It is clear that I did not express myself well or share with the community what is in my heart.”
McEntee apologized “for my choice of words at the council meeting. This is a sensitive moment, and I didn’t acknowledge the community’s deep sense of hurt and anger. For that, I am truly sorry.”